Escape from the Asylum
Waterfall Studios, London

November 17th 2002
Reviewed by Kevin Gallagher

Paul Hallas
Paul got the day off to a good start. His first intent was to cold-read Ian Rowland which went slightly awry when it turned out that his material source, a post on the Magic Café, in fact turned out to be from someone else. Moving quickly on, the next item was purely for magicians and well received; he apparently performed the very well known 37 force but the supplied number was 119. In re-capping Paul had apparently forgotten to restrict the number to two digits and also to ensure that no digits were duplicated. The prediction however, still turned out to be correct.

Next came a two deck effect where a freely chosen but unseen card from one deck matched a card blindly selected by Paul from a second deck. The third item showed the use of a general utility prediction with many applications, in his case dermaoptics? (seeing with the finger-tips) based on the fact that any card value can be made up by using 1, 2, 4 and 8 as binary cards, each being a different suit.

One in millions from his 'even cheaper magic book', allowed an impossibly large number to be predicted using numbered cards. Next, a five-way picture prediction, in this case using female intuition. The final effect showed one of many possible uses for his deceptive net change bag (Guy Bavli type), in this case a nice prediction of a well known character.

John Gordon
John drew the tough straw, talking about marketing and achieving. Talks such as this add a great deal to days like this and his talk was a mixture of combined snippets taken from a series of talks which he gives professionally. He made very good use of the time given with quite a lot of food for thought.

Ian Rowland
Ian opened with a very entertaining spoon bending routine, making full use of the fact that Banachek was sitting but six feet away. We went on to show a very eloquent corporate presentation for a re-dressed Nick Trost effect which, though simple, was very well put together. Ian showed his 'prelude' use for a number of optical illusions cards which were generally used to set the scene for later performances. Using the 'deal and duck' force, a well known person was predicted from the sixteen on view, again, whilst simple this was very well put together.

To finish, a completely impromptu drawing duplication was explained. I was not totally convinced by this but Ian had a huge personality and very amiable style so I would not dispute that he has little difficulty in 'making it fly' himself.

Chris Hare and Dave Botsford - The Telepathics
Chris, having already established the fact in previous years that he can remember ridiculous detail about every single registrant, combined it with very good effect with a 'telepathic act'. His partner, Dave, did a very good job of the coded calling. This type of act is, in itself, impressive if the fluency can be maintained but, add this to Chris' memory work where the spectator acts as a key to information which could not possible be gleaned in real-time and I think he is onto a winner.

Chris wandered up to me and a couple of others some time later and proceeded to tell us each our phone and/or mobile numbers which was definitely disconcerting.

Jack Delvin
Jack started by talking about his persona as a 'slightly foolish old man' and explained that he was getting better at it year on year. 'Jack was Jack' is the best I can say. He romped through a series a items, some useful others not, with impunity. Many of them involved billet switches but also featured were a few shortcut ideas for a swami gimmick, a completely impromptu book test and a 'just chance' Ouija board. He described many of his items as being "worth the price of admission alone" but the one idea which for me, probably was, was the idea of performing a 'Live and Dead' test as a 'Nice people and horrible people test', in his case, complete with choking joss sticks and flash paper. Many funny anecdotes throughout.

Spyros Melaris
Spyros generously offered the results of his research into a number of recent best sellers which would allow Max Maven's Autome to be performed on more appropriate books. He also showed an extension of this for use with a number of magazines. This included the very neat idea for a completely innocent and impromptu 'Add-a-number-pad'.

Aside from this, he acted as MC throughout the day and generally kept things running to plan.

Kovari essentially did a dealer dem interspersed with many anecdotes. The items featured included his 'Perfect Match' transparent Zenner Match board now available not only in three different sizes, miniature, regular and Jumbo, but with a choice of cards including Zenner symbols and animals. His Door 13 was a very professional looking '7 keys to Baldpate', billet knife and, another strong tempter, his magnetically locking 'Add-a-number' pad.

David Berglas
David performed what can best be described as a 'Multiple invisible tossed out deck' where a single card was selected from a 'visible' deck which became the only card remaining when all other cards had been called. One of the two people left standing was non other than Banachek which seemed to be yet another of the infuriating coincidences that David seems to attract which he goes on to take full advantage of, which is essentially his trade mark.

He showed his book which is finally with us, if somewhat bewildered that some dealers in the UK were already selling before he had seen one. Someone was handed a copy which was opened randomly and David elaborated on the items selected to give a flavour of the contents. These included the 'Mini Metro launch' where unsuspecting VIPs were shepherded unknowingly onto a vessel which then set sail from Liverpool to the Isle of Mann during which 20 previously disguised cars appeared from nowhere after the decks had been searched. The transportation of a banknote from Manchester to London on live television, the feature being the first ever to wow audiences with a split screen showing each location in half of the screen!

After answering a number of questions, David was finally rescued as his time came to an end all too quickly.

Banachek (Steve Shaw)
Steve, pleasingly, gave a straight through performance without stopping to explain anything. The act consisted of a two card divination that, for me, smacked too much of pre-show though this later turned out to be his reason for including it, a double book test, an excellent 'blind vision' presentation, a telephone book prediction, a Question and Answer routine using his own portfolio, an 'image appearing on his arm' card revelation and finishing, as might be expected, with his bending silverware.

As with Ian earlier, whilst from a technical point of view, all relatively simple this was elevated well out of most of our reaches by sheer presentation skill and I have no doubt why he enjoys such excellent success.

If you couldn't be there, the whole thing was filmed and will be available from Spyros on video tape or DVD soon.

© Kevin Gallagher 2002.